The Utah Jazz couldn’t have asked for a better outcome in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft if it tried. After Australian guard Dante Exum inexplicably fell into the Jazz lap at No. 5, this loaded draft class was hit with one surprise after another on Thursday, June 23. The Toronto Raptors stunned the Barclays Center audience in Brooklyn and especially ESPN European basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla by picking a projected second round selection from Brazil at No. 20.
That shock first round pick by Toronto--along with a few other players going earlier than expected--sent Duke forward Rodney Hood into a freefall. Projected to go anywhere between the No. 12 and No. 20 selections in the draft, Hood was still available when the Jazz picked 23rd.
Like Dante Exum before, the Jazz wasted no time in making their minds up on this pick, grabbing Hood with the No. 23 pick. Hood’s selection does make matters quite interesting going into a busy off-season that will see restricted free agent forward Gordon Hayward accept the qualifying offer the Jazz tendered recently--or take a max offer with whatever NBA team comes calling.
At any rate, Hood’s arrival in Utah could cause as many ruffles as Exum’s--because two players already are entrenched as starters at their positions. Hood seems to have already taken a liking to coming to play in Utah.
The former Duke star and arguably Mississippi State’s greatest player until he left the school, Hood was also Duke’s team captain during his one season on the court there, averaging 16 points and four rebounds per game. He'll join another Duke alum, new Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, on the team.
That he comes from such humble beginning may also explain his simple tweet exclaiming his happiness--having been selected with the No. 23 pick. Live on television, Hood did express some disappointment with dropping as far as he did, telling reporters he’ll have “a chip on his shoulder" going forward.
It was a familiar refrain from many players who were drafted--yet fell from where they were expected to have been selected. But, Hood's post-draft press conference was filled with emotion as he expressed deep humility and gratitude for being picked, having come from Mississippi.
For the Jazz and Hood, it was a memorable night to say the least. Though they traded their No. 35 pick in the second round to Memphis for a 2016 second-round selection--thus ending their night in Brooklyn on this June evening--you would have to say that the Jazz graded high based on whom they were able to select.